Travel Tips: What is the Difference Between a Travel Adapter and Travel Converter?

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I often find myself using the terms interchangeably, but they’re not. And knowing which one you need will make your international travels much smoother!

A travel adapter allows your power cord to fit into the power outlet of a different country.

amazon travel adaptor

I personally prefer to carry an “all-in-one” with me. Though it’s a bit bulkier, I know I’ll have the right option for any outlet.

all in one travel adapter

A travel converter changes the electrical output to one your device can handle. Many US devices are 110v while much of Europe is 220v.

amazon travel converter voltage transformer

Plugging in to the wrong voltage, even with an adapter, can fry your electronics, or worse, as in my case many years ago — make your curling iron so hot it actually melts your hair. 🙁

Which do you need?

Use this handy chart to check what voltage and plug your destination(s) use.

Then check your electronics. Many are set to handle voltage from 110v-230v which means you just need an adaptor. Some items, like the curling iron I mentioned above, can only handle 110 unless they’re dual voltage.

Also keep in mind many newer hotels have outlets that accommodate US plugs or complimentary adapters in the room, but if in doubt, contact them to check.


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  1. Ric Garrido

    October 2, 2014 at 3:45 pm

    Tip for travelers is you probably do not need a converter for computers, cameras and cell phones that were purchased in past few years. These electronics convert voltage automatically. You still need the adapter. I have spent far too many hours shopping for a plug adapter outside the USA when I wanted to be sightseeing.

  2. Darth Chocolate

    October 2, 2014 at 8:22 pm

    I second Ric’s comments and would also add that if you have other non-computer electronics, many have a physical switch that handles the different voltage/frequency.
    If not, then simply consider buying said appliance at the destination and either leave it there or bring it back for future travels.
    Because a converter is like lugging around a second laptop charger, and each device may need a different converter depending upon the current draw.

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